By Ruth A. Ringelstetter
The first time I stumbled on a picture of the Elmira School, I thought it was very cool and knew I had to mark it as a location for us to visit. I also worried that we wouldn’t make it there before it gave up the ghost to Midwest winters.
Finally, in 2015 when I was planning a photo trip that would take us through some very southern Iowa locations, and just the very northern section of Missouri, I managed to include it as one of our “on the way” locations. I remember sharing the picture with Joann when I first found the school, but I made it a point to not remind her before the trip so she could be surprised when we pulled up to it.
As we came down the highway, we could see the school sitting there looking forlorn. Joann quickly found a place to park, which was in the driveway of the town cemetery across the road. She got her equipment out of the car and headed across the highway.
Two teachers were employed for the school until 1918 when classes were combined into one room, and one teacher taught all grades. Then, from 1928 until 1940, two teachers were employed again. In 1946, three surrounding school districts combined with Elmira to become the Elmira Community Consolidated Grade School, District 39.
In 1952, the Osceola school district petitioned to join the Elmira district. It was approved and a new school building was also approved to be built at another location. That consolidation and subsequent new school building marked the end of educational life for this building. One source says the school was used for community meetings for a while, but was completely abandoned by the early 1970’s.
As you can see in the photos, most of the boards are missing from the back of one end of the building. The bell is long gone from the bell tower and the vent of the stovepipe is lying on the roof. There are also holes in the roof, which is always the beginning of the end. Since our visit was in 2015, there’s no telling what the building looks like now, if it’s even still standing.
It will probably be years before we’re even near this location again, and I don’t know if we’ll even want to drive past since seeing no trace of a building we’ve enjoyed photographing always makes us sad.
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